I was actually dreading writing this post. Not because amazing things didn’t happen, because they did, but because it hurts not knowing when I will be back at Noel. Thinking about it, writing about, talking about it only make my heart ache and my longing to be back greater, but ladies and gentlemen, if you read my last post you know the great/exciting/jump-for-joy news! God has been working and I know it is only a matter of time before I am back at Noel. It is a little foolish of me (actually its very foolish of me) actually worrying about following God’s calling. He is calling me back to Rwanda; therefore He will get me to Rwanda. I don’t need to worry; my life is in His all knowing perfect hands. Wynne, a beautiful woman with an amazing heart from my VO team, wrote in her blog (that you can follow here http://elderadventures.blogspot.com/2011/12/to-battlefield.html) (p.s. I need to figure out to put a link in the word here, another task for another day)
“My friend Lauren said it well here, when she said.... To be right smack dab in the middle of God’s will is the best place to be. To trust him for everything is the wisest and safest place to be. It’s also the scariest place. It’s that place where we surrender all control and say yes to literally anything God wants to do in our lives. It means that what we thought our lives would look like and the plans we made for ourselves will be replaced by wild adventure. It means that things could get messy and crazy and hard all to glorify the name of Jesus.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
So Noel….where do I even begin? I guess I will tell you about my kids.
Angie- She was not the first person to greet me when I stepped of the bus at Noel but she was one of people that stuck by my side the entire two days I was there. One memory that I go back to; Angie and I were playing Frisbee (along with some other kids) when she looked at me to throw the Frisbee in my direction. I didn’t realize it at first but she had filled the Frisbee with water. She had the biggest smile on her face and was just laughing at the thought of throwing it in my direction. When I realized what she was going to do I told her I was ready, she threw it and everyone laughed. I loved seeing her be silly and just have fun.
Kevin- She joined Angie and I during out tour. She did not say a word to me other than “toilet” (We were holding hands and she was explaining why she had to leave). Despite the non-existent communication we held hands for hours and smiled often. The memory that comes to mind (well there are two); 1. On the second day I hadn’t seen Kevin for a while but when we spotted one another a smile spread across her face she calmly walked over and grabbed my hand. It was so natural and comfortable, like we had known each other for years. 2. When I was saying my goodbyes Kevin came up to the bus and grabbed my arm. (In my haze of emotions I had actually gotten on the bus before saying goodbye to two of my kids!). I immediately ran off the bus, pulled her into a hug and just held her for a little while. When we separated I noticed her eyes filled with tears. I was already crying at this point so when I looked into her eyes I preceded to cry even harder. (And I was trying extremely hard to hold together until we pulled away)
Bosco- He is 16 and my brother. I met him while playing Frisbee after which he and Angie took me back to the baby’s room (they had been napping so I was anxiously awaiting until the woke up). Angie left but Bosco stayed behind with me. At this time I didn’t realize he was 16 and that still baffles me. He was very mature, caring, loving, almost like a father figure to these children. At 16! When we entered the room he introduced me to the women that were working in the room, only one of which spoke English. After a few minutes of listening to them talk in Kinyarwanda Erin, one of the workers, turns to me and tells me Bosco has said I am his sister and she asked if this was true. I of course say yes. I was honored that he would even joke about that. They of course started cracking up. I love Bosco. He is a beautiful person and I can’t wait to see him again.
Terry- I didn’t get to interact with him too much but I still consider him one of mine. He’s my coach for soccer. He taught me a little, we played a little, but not enough. I can’t wait to return and have him turn me into a professional. He had a beautiful smile, actually I don’t think I ever saw him without that smile on his face. I am even more excited to see that smile again.
Emmanuel- My camera man as I liked to call him. Emmanuel was originally drawn to me because of my camera. He came over to be a stared at my screen on my camera, I knew he was curious and interested and so I handed it over. He quickly presumed to role of professional photographer. He loved taking everyone’s picture, and not to brag or anything, but he is talented. After the two days I was so excited to look through all the pictures he had taken. Well it turns out he ended up deleting close to 200 pictures. At first I was upset, but I quickly remembered the joy my camera brought him and soon those pictures didn’t matter. On the second day he asked me if I was coming back the next day. I had to tell him no, that I was leaving. He placed his fist under his chin, not looking at me, and said “I’m going to cry.” I had to do everything within my power not to start crying right than and there. When we were all leaving a saw a single tear fall from his eyes. I hated leaving. If I could have, I would have stayed right than and there.
I don’t even know my last boys name. Like Kevin, we didn’t exchange many words. He understood me (sometimes) when I spoke but rarely spoke back, just nodded his head. He didn’t even find my until the second day but him and Emmanuel I cried the hardest over. Though all the kids loved to just be held, or shown affection in some way, I felt like he loved it the most out of all my kids. It was very rare that my arms were not wrapped around him or our hands intertwined that second day. I loved every second of it. I have three very fond memories of him. 1. We were walking when he showed me the bracelet he had made with some of my other team members. He than preceded to take off the bracelet he was so proud of, grabbed my wrist and tied it on while saying “present”. I still have the bracelet on my wrist. 2. He had gotten his picture taken with a Fuji Polaroid by my beautiful, wonderful and talented teammate Allison. These pictures were such a treat for the kids. They loved getting their picture taking and looking at them, so the fact that they got to keep a picture was a big deal. He showed me his picture and I was so proud. It’s a little weird but I felt like a mom looking at my child’s school picture. I had my bag wrapped around me when I noticed him trying to unzip it. I asked what he was doing and that’s when he started laughing and slipped the picture in. Another gift. This boy couldn’t have been more than 8 years old yet he was willing to give me all these special things. I was amazing by his heart. 3. He was the other kid I had missed in the shuffle of saying goodbye. (Seriously, I have no idea how I “missed” saying goodbye to my kids. The only explanation that I have is that I was an emotional wreck and everything was a blur.) He, like Kevin, came up to my window and grabbed my arm. He had a big smile, but when he saw my tears the smile shrank a little. I once again jumped of the bus and ran to him and pulled him into a hug. He was somewhat resistant, which I was surprised by until we separated. He put his hands on top of his head and began making the sucking-in-you-tears noise. Remembering that moment brings tears to my eyes every time. He than left me and my groups of other kids and remained distant until I got back on the bus. I understood him keeping his distance to avoid showing emotion but at the same time I wanted him to be able to cry and for me to hold him tight while he did. I hated leaving him. I hated leaving them all.
Though we spent two days at Noel we returned on day three to pick up Tara and drop a few things off. Even though we parked on the street the kids still came, some out to the street other just pressed against the gate. I immediately saw Bosco when we pulled off to the side. We held hands for a bit before he had to help carry some things. I saw Terry and we waved and smiled. I saw Angie and Kevin behind the gate and waved frantically to them. Finally I saw Emmanuel. In the two days that I spent with him I didn’t see him smile very often. When I spotted him he began waving and had the biggest smile across his face. I had to restrain myself from jumping off the bus. He came over to my window and held my hand for a little while. I was upset that I didn’t get to see my little man, but thrilled that I got to see the others one last time before heading off the Ethiopia.
My kids obviously weren’t the only ones I interacted with at Noel. There are many that I had brief interactions with and even more that I didn’t have the chance to talk with. I am excited to return and begin meeting and interacting with new kids as well as continue to build relationships with the ones I have already be so blessed to meet.
While I was at Noel we did crafts, took pictures, played soccer basketball and Frisbee, walked around, sang, watched their children of Noel perform dances, drums and some pretty awesome acrobatics. We laughed, we talked we held hands and we cried. I will never forget those last moments I spent at Noel or the people I interacted with.
Some words I will never forget, “I love you.” “I will miss you” “I will never forget you” and finally right before I got on the bus for the last time John D’Amour said to me, “You will come back, two weeks is not long enough.”
I am so excited and blessed to be returning to Noel, to my kids, to all the kids. God is so good.